Sunday, July 26, 2009

New Life at Agape: Empowering Women

My wife, Lori, our Women’s Minister has been studying with Alena Starns for a while. Alena has come out of years of abuse and addiction and has worked hard to grow closer to God. Alena is also responsible for bringing many to church with her. Lori says that the Thursday study has turned into a small group.

She was baptized into Jesus this morning by Lori. Our philosophy at Agape is if you study with them, you baptize them (John 4:1-2) “The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John—although it was not Jesus who baptized but his disciples.”

It's interesting the response I received when I mentioned to an elder friend earlier this week that Lori would baptize a woman with whom she had been studying. It wasn't, "Wow, awesome," "Praise God," or "That's good." It was, "Oh, is she going to preach next?"

While I have a conservative view of 1 Timothy 2 concerning women having male disciples and preaching--I have always felt that we needed to empower women to do ministry more than we traditionally have. The response above is typical of many male church leaders. We somehow assume that if women start doing ministry they will threaten us. Instead we do nothing (I have been guilty of this for years). Instead we also ask women to do nothing and stay confined to a seat on Sunday morning. For some reason we feel that 1 Timothy 2 is geographical meaning that women have freedom to move about the building except the hours of 9am until noon on Sunday mornings. Then they must sit down in a seat and say nothing.

However, I see it differently. What Lori, and other women have done, opens the door for the following:
  • Women's Ministry to be more than showers, ladies' tea, and potluck planning. It involves leading women in spiritual formation, outreach, and evangelism. And in turn this leads others in the church.
  • Women's Ministry interns (which we now have one) who will learn from spiritually mature women (like 1 Timothy 5)
  • Women who study Bible and even seek degrees in Bible and Ministry will find a broader use for the degree. Just as Lady Wisdom had a powerful message for men (Prov.) so men will have a great opportunity to be blessed by the many women who will push us to think spiritually from a different perspective.
  • As a man this has blown open the door for our men's ministry. I get to spend more time with men. I love helping guys deal with their fear of women. Jackson Katz once said, "Weak men fear strong women, but strong men are attracted to strong women." I agree.
  • It will be as it was in Gen 2 = men and women will complement each other
  • Men will be challenged to step up and lead in their ministries.

Great job Lori.


Lori Ann said...

Thank you sweetie. You have always encourages me to be the best person I can be!

Zachary Zumwalt said...

As the ancient Chinese parable says, "Good things happen while the Zumwalts are away for a month." Figures.

So glad to hear about this, but super bummed that we couldn't have been there for it. Too busy hyping Agape up across the country. Now we've got something else to brag about!

We're so proud to be a part of all this.

Glenna Brown said...

What a wonderful way to look at those scriptures. I also have a conservative view on the role of women through the worship service, but too many get caught up with the service and forget about all of the other areas we can serve. Praise God for you both. Praise God for all of the work you are doing in His name and helping those that others have left behind. We love and miss you guys. Maury and Glenna Brown

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron,

Tim and I have always been greatly encouraged by your messages when we were living in Portland and continue to be encouraged by your works with agape c of c. I greatly appreciate your views on the womens role in the church. There are still too many (I've been to a few of them) that feel women are just there to sit and listen, say nothing, and leave all of the church business to the men. Don't get me wrong, they are starting to turn around, but with preachers like yourself out their it gives a ray of hope that things will start changing more than ever before.

Sarah Taber